Islamic views on evolution

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Islamic views on evolution are diverse, ranging from theistic evolution to creationism. Some Muslim thinkers have proposed and accepted elements of the theory of evolution, while believing in the supremacy of God in the process. In modern times, some Muslims have rejected evolution, and teaching it is banned in some countries. The underlying issue is that Adamic descent, as written in the Quran, is contradicted by modern biological anthropology and empirical evidence.[1] One modern scholar, Usaama al-Azami, suggested that both narratives of creation and of evolution, as understood by modern science, may be believed by modern Muslims as addressing two different kinds of truth, the revealed and the empirical.[2]


Muslims scholars do not believe in Young Earth creationism, a doctrine held to by a plurality of Americans since 1982 to the present.[3][4] Islamic views of the Bible vary. In recent years, a movement has begun to emerge in some Muslim countries promoting themes that have been characteristic of Christian creationists. This stance has received some criticism,[who?] due to claims that the Quran and Bible are incompatible.[5][6][7] Khalid Anees, of the Islamic Society of Britain, has discussed the relationship between Islam and evolution:[8]

"Islam also has its own school of Evolutionary creationism/Theistic evolutionism, which holds that mainstream scientific analysis of the origin of the universe is supported by the Quran. Many Muslims believe in evolutionary creationism, especially among Sunni and Shia Muslims and the Liberal movements within Islam. Among scholars of Islam İbrahim Hakkı of Erzurum who lived in Erzurum then Ottoman Empire now Republic of Turkey in the 18th century is famous for stating that 'between plants and animals there is sponge, and, between animals and humans there is monkey'."[9]

Muslims accept science as being fully compatible with Islam and readily accept microevolution and the belief in macroevolution, with the only exception being human evolution. Within the corpus of Islamic sources there is nothing whatsoever that contradicts microevolution. Evolution on a larger scale from one type of species to another (excluding humans) as in macroevolution, is equally acceptable and justifiable as per Islamic sources. According to Islam, the only exception that is made is the creation of mankind. Humans are not viewed as being part of the whole evolutionary scheme, but rather being a unique and honored creation of Allah. [Quran 17:70, 38:75]. (From an Islamic perspective, everything takes place according to Allah's will and permission and as predestined by Him alone. [Quran 54:49]) In light of this, the concept of natural selection is not always accepted in Islam.

The creation of man in the Quran

The creation of mankind is mentioned several times in the Quran. For instance, it says "It is He who has created you out of clay" (Surah 6:2), "It was He who brought you into being from the earth..." (11:61), "We first created you from dust, then from a sperm drop, then from clotted blood, then a lump of flesh, both shaped and unshaped, so that We might manifest to you [Our power]" (22:5), "He originated the creation of man from clay, then He made his progeny from an extract of a humble fluid" (32:7-8) and, a verse used by many Islamic scholars to support evolution, "...and made from water every living thing? Then will they not believe?"(21:30), which is believed by evolutionary Muslims to refer to humans evolving in the oceans millions of years ago, as suggested by modern evolution.[10] The underlying issue of Adamic descent of human beings is visible in Quran as it describes all Islamic prophets in sequence of human evolution.[citation needed]

Modern thought

In the 19th century the prominent scholar of Islamic revival, Jamal-al-Din al-Afghānī agreed with Darwin that life will compete with other life in order to succeed. He also believed that there was competition in the realm of ideas similar to that of nature. However, he believed explicitly that life was created by God;[11] Darwin did not discuss the origin of life, saying only "Probably all the organic beings which have ever lived on this earth have descended from some primordial form, into which life was first breathed".[12]

Islamic scholars Ghulam Ahmed Pervez,[13] Edip Yüksel,[14][15] and T.O. Shanavas in his book, Islamic Theory of Evolution: the Missing Link between Darwin and the Origin of Species[16] say that there is no contradiction between the scientific theory of evolution and Quran's numerous references to the emergence of life in the universe.

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Movement's view of evolution is that of universal acceptance, albeit divinely designed. The movement actively promotes god-directed "evolution".[17] Over the course of several decades the movement issued various publications in support of the scientific concepts behind evolution.[citation needed]

In Turkey, important scholars strove to accommodate the theory of evolution in Islamic scripture during the first decades of the Turkish Republic; their approach to the theory defended Islamic belief in the face of scientific theories of their times.[18]

Adnan Oktar,[19] also known by his pen-name Harun Yahya, is a Muslim advocate against the theory of evolution. He is considered a charlatan by many Muslim scholars, and his representative at a conference on Islam and evolution in January 2013 was ridiculed during and after the conference.[2][20] Most of Yahya's information is taken from the Institute for Creation Research and the Intelligent Design movement in the United States.[21] Oktar largely uses the Internet to promote his ideas.[22] His BAV (Bilim Araştırma Vakfı/ Science Research Foundation) organizes conferences with leading American creationists. Another leading Turkish advocate of Islamic creationism is Fethullah Gülen.[citation needed]

According to the Guardian newspaper, some British Muslim students have distributed leaflets on campus, advocating against Darwin's theory of evolution.[5] At a conference in the UK in January 2004, entitled Creationism: Science and Faith in Schools, "Dr Khalid Anees, of the Islamic Society of Britain stated that 'Muslims interpret the world through both the Koran and what is tangible and seen. There is no contradiction between what is revealed in the Koran and natural selection and survival of the fittest'."[8] Maurice Bucaille, famous in the Muslim world for his commentary on the Quran and science, attempted to reconcile evolution with the Quran by accepting animal evolution up to early hominid species, and then positing a separate hominid evolution leading to modern humans. However, these ideas differ from the theory of evolution as accepted by biologists.[21]

Contemporary Islamic scholar Yasir Qadhi believes that the idea that humans evolved is against the Quran, but says that Allah may have placed humanity perfectly into an evolutionary pattern to give the appearance of human evolution.[20] Usaama al-Azami later argued that scriptural narratives of creation, and evolution as understood by modern science, may be believed by modern Muslims as addressing two different kinds of truth, the revealed and the empirical.[2]

Muslim society

Evolutionary biology is included in the high-school curricula of most Muslim countries. Science foundations of 14 Muslim countries, including Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Indonesia, and Egypt, recently signed a statement by the Interacademy Panel (IAP, a global network of science academies), in support of the teaching of evolution, including human evolution.[21]

In 2014, when the Islamist extremist rebel group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant captured the Iraqi city of Mosul, the group issued a new set of rules for the schools there, which included a ban on the teaching of evolution.[23]

A 2007 study of religious patterns found that only 8% of Egyptians, 11% of Malaysians, 14% of Pakistanis, 16% of Indonesians, and 22% of Turks agree that Darwin's theory is probably or most certainly true, and a 2006 survey reported that about 25% of Turkish adults agreed that human beings evolved from earlier animal species. In contrast, the 2007 study found that only 28% of Kazakhs thought that evolution is false.[21]

According to a more recent Pew study these numbers appear to increase slowly but steadily. For instance, a relatively large fraction of people accept human evolution in Kazakhstan (79%) and Lebanon (78% for college students), but relatively few in Afghanistan (26%), Iraq (27%), and Pakistan (30%), with most of the other Islamic countries somewhere in between.[24]


  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 al-Azami, Usaama. "Muslims and Evolution in the 21st Century: A Galileo Moment?". Huffington Post Religion Blog. Retrieved 19 February 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "The Origin of Life: An Islamic perspective". Islam for Today. Archived from the original on 17 July 2012. Retrieved 2007-03-14.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Evolution, Creationism, Intelligent Design". Gallup. Retrieved 4 May 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 5.0 5.1 Campbell, Duncan (2006-02-21). "Academics fight rise of creationism at universities". Guardian. Retrieved 2008-07-19.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Sayin, Ümit; Kence, Aykut (1999). "Islamic Scientific Creationism: A New Challenge in Turkey". National Center for Science Education. Retrieved 2009-11-12.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Koning, Danielle (2006). "Anti-evolutionism amongst Muslim students" (PDF). ISIM Review. 18: 48. Retrieved 2007-03-14.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. 8.0 8.1 Papineau, David (2004-01-07). "Creationism: Science and Faith in Schools". Guardian. Retrieved 2008-07-18.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Erzurumi, İ. H. (1257). Marifetname
  10. The Quran, translated by Maulana Wahiiduddin Khan, edited by Farida Khanam. Goodword Books, New Delhi, India and Thomson Press
  11. al-Afghani, Jamal al-Din (1838-97)
  12. Charles Darwin and Evolution
  13. Quran and the Theory of Evolution
  14. Are evolution and religion compatible?,, accessed April 12, 2013
  15. Edip Yuksel, Blind Watch-Watchers or Smell the Cheese,, accessed February 17, 2013
  16. David Yonke, Adrian doctor to lecture on evolution, The Blade, accessed March 7, 2013.
  17. Jesus and the Indian Messiah – 13. Every Wind of Doctrine
  18. Lua error in Module:Citation/CS1/Identifiers at line 47: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value).
  19. "Seeing the light -- of science". Retrieved 2009-01-06.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. 20.0 20.1 Hameed, Salman (11 January 2013). "Muslim thought on evolution takes a step forward". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 January 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 21.3 Lua error in Module:Citation/CS1/Identifiers at line 47: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value).
  22. Darwinism's Contradiction with Religion, Why Darwinism is Incompatible With the Qur'an, Harun Yahya
  23. Salaheddin, Sinan; Salama, Vivian (September 15, 2014), ISIS Bans Teaching Evolution In Schools, Talking Points Memo, retrieved 2015-02-23<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. The World’s Muslims: Religion, Politics and Society, p 132, Pew Research Center, April 30, 2013 [1]

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